The boys stay calm. Brinker makes sure Finny doesn't move as boys get teachers and Dr. Stanpole to come to Finny's aid. Dr. Stanpole tells Gene that he thinks it's a simpler fracture that last time, and has Finny carried away to the infirmary in a chair. Gene wishes he could help, but knows it might make Finny angrier.
As the boy most suited to facing reality, Brinker takes charge. Finny's "simpler" break, also refers to the break between Finny and Gene. After the first fall it was complicated, full of denial. This time it won't be.
Gene sneaks to the infirmary and hides outside and imagines all the funny things Finny must be saying to Dr. Stanpole and Mr. Latham. Gene laughs so hard he cries.
Gene continues to idealize Finny, to see him as a source of innocence.
When it's dark and the doctors have left, Gene crawls up to the window and opens. Finny furiously accuses Gene of coming to try and hurt him some more. Gene apologizes several times and leaves.
Now without any athletic grace, Finny finally acknowledges Gene's jealous vengeful behavior toward him.
Gene aimlessly wanders the campus, like a "roaming ghost." He feels as if he no longer exists. He spends the night sleeping under the stadium.
Gene feels nonexistent because he has destroyed a huge component of his identity: Finny.
The next morning, he finds a note in his room from Dr. Stanpole asking him to bring clothes for Finny. At the infirmary, Finny's hands shake as he sorts through his suitcase. He confesses that he's sent letters to all the armed services trying to enlist, but that none of them would take him because of his leg. The reason he denied the war existed was because he felt left out of it. Gene responds that Finny would have been a terrible soldier. He would have made everyone friends.
Finny was denying the existence of the war because he couldn't be a part of it. He, too, could feel jealousy! Yet Gene's response points out that Finny wanted to be part of the war because he saw it from his innocent perspective. By being kept out of the war, Finny's innocence was preserved.
Finny starts crying, and says that Gene must not have known what he was doing when he shook the branch. Gene says it was a "crazy thing" inside him that made him do it. Finny says he understands and believes him. Then Dr. Stanpole tells Gene to return that evening after he has set Finny's bone.
Is Gene lying? Is Finny? It's not entirely clear. But by accepting each other's claims they preserve a childish innocence in their friendship.
When Gene returns to the infirmary, he is shocked to numbness when Dr. Stanpole tells him that Finny has died because some marrow from the break entered Finny's bloodstream during the operation.
Finny's death freezes him forever in his youth and peaceful innocence. Of course, Finny's dead, so he's frozen for Gene.
Gene never cries about Finny's death, not even at his funeral, because he feels as if it's his own funeral.
Finny's dead and Gene has what he always wanted: Finny's now a part of him.